Can Becoming a Mom Actually Boost Your Career? A New Study Says “Yes”
We all talk a big talk about how women can do everything: Have babies and an awesome career and a clean house and a perfect body and Pinterest parties. But deep down most of us think one thing about all that talk:
It's totally not true.
Sure, some moms might be able to pull it all off. And, of course, moms can work and have families. But deep down, most of us believe that parenting makes work a lot more impossible. I mean, who among us parents hasn't resented the single or child-free co-worker who is able to actually take a weekend off? Or felt guilty for calling in sick (yet again) when our child is running her third fever for the month? Most of us who are parents feel a constant tug-and-pull that can sometimes make succeeding at both our careers and our family lives feel downright impossible.
For moms, in particular, there has even been a “scientific” term used to describe how women are often penalized in the workplaces simply for having children called “the motherhood penalty.”
But now, a new study is challenging everything we thought we knew about motherhood and our careers. According to an article in Slate, there is very new and very compelling information out there is proving to be contradictory to the outdated notion that motherhood = a blow to our careers.
The piece, penned by author Alissa Quart from her book, Squeezed: Why Our Families Can’t Afford America, talks about how she actually believes there is such a thing as a “motherhood advantage” for working mothers. And just what the heck is a “motherhood advantage?” The motherhood advantage refers to all of those things that you can do even better at work now that you're a mom.
The truth is, becoming a mom equips you with an entirely new skill set that makes you pretty much awesome in the workplace. Quart points out things that many women become better at after having a baby such as:
- Having better listening, reasoning, and leadership skills.
- Increased scheduling ability.
- Management skills, courtesy of teaching tiny humans how not to impale themselves on sharp objects and how to learn to use a spoon.
- Better flexibility and ability to multi-task.
- Improved efficiency, because hey, someone has to pick the kid up by closing time, right?
And it wasn't just Quart's own personal beliefs about how motherhood can help women in the workforce; surveys also backed up her findings with data that showed that women with children are more likely to be more productive at work than women without children. There are even some animal studies that reveal that animal mothers are more likely to be ambitious as compared to non-mother primates, simply because they want to provide for their children and ensure their well-being.
I mean, it makes sense, right? Motherhood opens up a whole new world we didn't know existed and it only makes sense that for some women, having children might also translate into making them better, more efficient, and even more goal-oriented workers. I know that for me, that was definitely true. I actually produced some of my best writing after having baby #4 — we are talking literal days after giving birth, I was full of creative energy and bursting to write.
And the same was true for my first baby; I was driven and compelled to pursue work that was meaningful to me and would make a difference not only for my daughter but for her legacy as well. I wanted her to see me doing work that would make a difference in the world and work that I loved so that she would feel empowered to pursue those same things as well.
There was even talk in Quart's article about up-and-coming research that will prove, once and for all, what we all know anyway: That moms are basically super-humans who are not only physiologically more capable than their male counterparts but who also develop even more “powers” after giving birth. As in, their brains' gray matter literally changes to allow them to do more than ever. It's a phenomenon that scientists are exploring, especially in the postpartum period. Come to think of it, it does explain that weird burst of energy you get after having a baby and how I can't even believe I was able to accomplish everything I did while so sleep-deprived.
But the point is, women like Quart are on a mission to reframe how we think about “mom-brain” and show that all mothers–working or not–are an advantage for society.
What do you think? Were you a better employee after having kids?